They did it.
They finally did it.
Not since week one against the New England Patriots had the Miami Dolphins defeated an opponent so convincingly like they did on Sunday when they smacked the Cleveland Browns around all day long en route to a 39-17 victory at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
It was a dominant performance on both sides of the ball, as the Dolphins nearly put up a 40-burger on offense (thanks Jason Sanders), and held the Browns - one of football’s highest scoring offenses this season - to just 17 points while keeping their potent rushing offense in check for most of the afternoon.
Unlike Miami’s previous three victories during this four-game winning streak, Sunday’s game against Cleveland was wrapped up early in the 4th quarter - so much so that starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa ended up conceding snaps to Skylar Thompson late in the contest.
It was a day filled with fantastic performances from many Dolphins players, but it wasn’t perfect. Because of that, we will now call an audible and instead of taking a look at the good, bad and ugly from Sunday’s game, we’ll take a look at the good, great and ugly instead. Sound like a plan?
Let’s get started!
Dolphins pass rush finally shows up and wreaks havoc on Jacoby Brissett
Not only did they hold the Browns to just 17 points, but they got pressure in the face of Cleveland quarterback Jacoby Brissett all day long - bringing him down for three sacks in the contest.
Melvin Ingram got one.
Christian Wilkins got one.
Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips combined for another.
According to Pro Football Focus, Brissett was pressured on a whopping 40.5% of his dropbacks and in addition to the three sacks, Miami had a total of 14 quarterback hits.
Miami’s gritty performance on defense was certainly a welcomed sight and if they hope to continue to stockpile wins like they have the past four weeks, getting to the quarterback and wrestling him to the ground will be paramount.
Miami’s two-headed rushing attack outduels Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt
The Miami Dolphins have mostly been a pass first team this season, and with Jaylen Waddle lined up at one wide-receiver spot and Tyreek Hill lined up on the other side, who could blame the Dolphins for wanting to make sure the star duo is fed multiple targets per game?
As a result, the run game has been left on the back burner, so to speak.
Well, on Sunday, against the Cleveland Browns, that changed.
As a team, Miami had 33 rushing attempts for 195 yards (5.9 yards per carry) and two touchdowns.
Jeff Wilson played in just his second game for the Dolphins, yet he led the team in attempts and yards, carrying the ball 17 times for 119 yards (7.0 yards per carry) and a touchdown.
Raheem Mostert only carried the ball eight times, but he made the most of his opportunities, gaining 65 yards (8.1 yards per carry) and reaching the endzone himself.
Winning teams are able to move the ball on the ground and on Sunday, Miami proved they are capable of doing so themselves. That is something that will prove extremely valuable later in the season when the Dolphins travel to New York to play the Buffalo Bills and New England to play the Patriots in cold weather conditions.
Jason Sanders continues his epic downfall
Jason Sanders is the third highest paid kicker in the NFL, which means that he should be playing like the third best kicker in the league, at least.
Unfortunately, that’s just not the case.
Sanders has been underperforming all year long and Sunday against Cleveland was no different. While he did make two field goals, he missed two PATs which will certainly not give his coaches, teammates and fans any confidence in his ability during high-stakes moments moving forward.
It’s hard to fathom moving on from Sanders right now, as there aren’t many all-star kickers just sitting at home waiting for a phone call, but something needs to be done to fix the former All-Pro’s game, because there is going to come a time this season when the Dolphins need to rely on the right leg of Sanders to win an important football game, and as of right now, I can’t say with any amount of confidence that he can be trusted to deliver.
Through ten games, Miami has a record of 7-3 after rattling off four straight victories. How are you feeling after Sunday’s dominant win against Cleveland? Do you think that Miami has struck gold with the addition of Jeff Wilson? Will the Dolphins defense be able to continue to trend in the right direction after Sunday’s commanding performance? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter at @MBrave13. Fins up!